Mel never pondered dropping Anelka

21 January 2014 06:49

New West Brom manager Pepe Mel insists once Nicolas Anelka told him he was ready to play there was never a chance the Frenchman would be dropped.

The striker was in the headlines again prior to the club's 1-1 draw at home to Everton after club shirt sponsor Zoopla said it would not be renewing its £3million two-year deal following the furore over Anelka's controversial 'quenelle' gesture.

There were reports the company has requested the forward not be picked but Mel said he made decisions for the good of the team.

Asked whether he considered dropping Anelka, who is awaiting the imminent conclusion of a Football Association investigation into the gesture, which has been accused of having anti-Semitic undertones, the Spaniard said: "No. We needed to win tonight.

"Nicolas is a very good player. He is a very good professional and I am only the head coach.

"I spoke to him yesterday and asked him if he was ready to play and he said he was.

"My obligation is to think about football and the best interests of West Bromwich Albion.

"If he is suspended then I won't be able to play him but at the club we must just think about winning matches."

They were not able to win but Diego Lugano's 75th-minute near-post header cancelled out Kevin Mirallas' first-half opener and ensured Mel opened his Premier League account with a point.

"It was a good night. Today is a long day for me as I have been working since 8am this morning to get ready for the game but the end is beautiful," he added.

"The result really is a very fair one. The first half we were too open and the second half we were too compact.

"In the first half we made lots of errors which could have cost us the game but thankfully we were able to talk about them at half-time.

"It was very good first step. Everton are a strong side but we go away from here thinking we did a good job."

Everton missed the chance to go fourth and manager Roberto Martinez knew they should have capitalised on their first-half performance.

"I think it is fair to say we started the game really well," he said.

"When we got forward we got rid of the pressure West Brom were putting on us and looked dangerous but when you get into a dangerous position you need to have a two-goal cushion.

"It was a difficult pitch for the team in possession. It was forcing you to make the wrong decision and the wrong control.

"We are disappointed to concede the goal in the manner we did - defending a corner and trying to quickly counter-attack.

"For those reasons we dropped two points but away from home it is another point towards our tally."

Source: PA

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